Destination: Tibet

‘Tibet Reopens to Foreign Tourism’

That’s the headline on the BBC story. The AP goes with China Reopens Tibet to Foreign Tourists. And China Daily goes with a little something extra: Tibet Greets First Foreign Tourists After Riot.

Related on World Hum:
* China Blocks Travel to Ethnic Tibetan Regions

Tags: Asia, China, Tibet

Shrinking Planet Headline of the Day: ‘Free Tibet’ Flags Made in China

Police in Guangdong are on the case, the BBC reports. Here’s the kicker: “Workers said they thought they were just making colourful flags and did not realise their meaning.”

Photo by -Marlith- via Flickr, (Creative Commons)


Out Today: Pico Iyer’s ‘The Open Road’

The timing is remarkable. After Pico Iyer spent five years working on his new book about Tibet’s spiritual leader, The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama hits bookstores today—at a moment when Tibet is making headlines around the world. If nothing else, it assures Iyer’s work will find an audience beyond armchair travelers and Tibet admirers. We’ve just posted an interview with Iyer in which he explains why travel is at the heart of the book. Elsewhere on the Web, reviews and related Dalai Lama profiles are beginning to trickle in.

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China Blocks Travel to Ethnic Tibetan Regions

Tibet is often narrowly defined as the Tibetan Autonomous Region, but as the BBC points out, half of all Tibetans live outside it. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that recent protests over China’s rule of Tibet have spilled over those borders, too, into the ethnic Tibetan Chinese provinces of Gansu and Sichuan, among other places.

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Tags: Asia, China, Tibet

Violent Protests Prompt Travel Warnings for Tibet*

Photo by apainog via Flickr, (Creative Commons).

Ethnic Tibetans burned cars and shops in Lhasa, Tibet today, capping a week of demonstrations marking the anniversary of the 1959 uprising against Chinese rule. (Unless, of course, you’re domestic Chinese media, in which case nothing is happening.) The U.S. Embassy in Beijing advises Americans to defer trips to Tibet.

* Update, 12 p.m. ET: Chinese police have reportedly fired on protesters, killing at least two people. Said one witness: “As I approached Potala Square, I heard cannon fire, louder than rifles. Others told me police were firing tear gas along Beijing Zhonglu, west of the Potala.”


China Bans Mount Everest Climbers on Tibet Side

The Tibet side of the mountain will be shut to down until May 10, effectively stopping climbers from making any serious tries at the summit this season. Why?

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Bjork Shouts ‘Tibet! Tibet!’ in Crowded Shanghai Theater

The Icelandic singer’s bold public show of support for the “Tibet Autonomous Region”—she shouted “Tibet! Tibet!”—came at the end of a concert in Shanghai Sunday, capping her performance of the song “Declare Indedependence.”

Tags: Asia, China, Tibet

Everest Base Camp in Tibet: The Himalayan Bangkok?

Photo by Rubert Taylor-Price via Flickr, (Creative Commons).

As we recently noted, the Chinese government is building a 67-mile highway to Everest base camp in Tibet, paving over a rough path, allegedly so runners will have an easier time carrying the Olympic torch to the mountain. That new road, writes Michael Kodas in the New York Times, is going to “turn Mount Everest into the first arena, and profit center, of its Olympic Games.”

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Search Continues for Lonely Planet Travel Writer

The search continues for Clem Lindenmayer, the 47-year-old Australian travel writer who disappeared last month while hiking near Minya Konka in western China. ChinaTrekking.com has been keeping close tabs on the search, posting news of sightings of Western hikers, but it has no conclusive reports of Lindenmayer sightings. Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree discussion is still active. JourneyEast.org, which notes an $800 reward for information leading to Lindenmayer, reports that his last e-mail was sent in early May from Kangding.

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China to Build Highway to Mount Everest

The highway will be paved and follow an existing 67-mile “rough path” on the Tibetan side of Mount Everest to the base camp at 17,060 feet. (So we assume all those yaks hauling equipment to the base camp on the Nepal side, recently dubbed the Himalayan version of Burning Man by Outside, won’t be put out of work any time soon.) But the questions raised by the development are many. Among them: What impact will it have on the base camp? What will the environmental impact of the road be? What effect will it have on China-Tibet relations? Is this development really a ploy for China to strengthen its claims to Tibet?

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Lonely Planet Writer Missing in Tibet

According to various reports, including this post on Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree, 47-year-old Australian travel writer Clem Lindenmayer was expected back from a six-day solo backpacking trip in eastern Tibet nearly a month ago. He was last known to be trekking near Minya Konka mountain, which one Hong Kong-based magazine editor has called a “cutting-edge destination” attracting travelers “put off by the circus revolving around places like Mount Everest.” Lindenmayer is an experienced traveler. He speaks several languages, including Mandarin. His last book for Lonely Planet was Trekking in the Patagonian Andes, published in 2003.

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Flinn on the Lhasa Express: “I’d Give it a B-Minus”

San Francisco Chronicle writer John Flinn took a ride on the Lhasa Express, the new train from China to Tibet, and returned with that verdict and a terrific tale of life—and strange happenings—on the high-altitude rails. 

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Colin Thubron and the “Shadow of the Silk Road”

He’s among the best travel writers working today, and this Sunday The Times of London began a series of three excerpts from Colin Thubron’s new book, Shadow of the Silk Road. Thubron, whose Behind the Wall landed at No. 23 in World Hum’s countdown of the Top 30 travel books, travels through China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Iran and Turkey, and the first excerpt finds him en route to Tibet.

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Tags: Asia, China, Tibet

New China-Tibet Train Derails

Reports Reuters via the New York Times: “One of China’s new trains to Tibet, the world’s highest railway, derailed, disrupting the line for five hours and delaying thousands of passengers, state news media said. No one was injured. Malfunctioning signal and switching equipment was said to be the cause. It was the first mishap on the rail system, which reaches altitudes of 16,400 feet above sea level, since it began operating July 1.” Also, earlier this month, a 77-year-old tourist from Hong Kong died of altitude sickness while aboard the train.


Xeni Jardin Hacks the Himalayas

This week National Public Radio’s “Day to Day” is broadcasting Xeni Jardin’s four-part series about how Tibetans are coping with encroaching technology. Jardin traveled through Tibet, India and China, and her reports explore “how Western ‘hackers’ are building low-cost communications networks to bring phone and Web service to displaced Tibetan refugees—and how native peoples are trying to hold onto their culture in an interconnected world.” Jardin has supplemented her stories with photos and audio on the NPR Web site, and extra commentary and video on her personal page.